Quoting Sythion, reply 50
No 4x game should ever require conquering the entire world.
Er, Legendary Heroes doesn't require conquering the entire world. You can win by quest and you can win by building the towers. AI players will surrender if you're overwhelmingly more powerful than them. I agree it can be a bit a slog at the end, but I actually think Legendary Heroes does reasonably well at reducing the slog. If nothing else, there are normally a few Epic quests to give a bit of variety as you're crushing the AI players.
Correct me if I'm wrong on these two points, but the AI only surrenders if you are beating them up and the AI cannot use the master quest victory.
That's not really that important though. I think my terminology was inaccurate, and there is less maintenance per turn than a game like Civ late game. That's a good thing.
What I meant is that in every 4x game where the goal is conquest, there is a point where the balance of the game tips from challenging game play to effortless cleanup. This is due to the snowballing effect of power, and it's something that games like Civ try to design around with systems such as happiness, corruption and war weariness. In the case of Civ games, this means that you usually end up conquering, consolidating, conquering, consolidating, etc. It's not perfect, but it does keep the ramp from going insane.
The only system that tries to affect this at all in LH is unrest, and due to the ease of overcoming it, it's mostly a non-factor.
As a result we have a game where the player has effectively won after 2 hours of playing, but must spend 6 hours cleaning up (on large maps), which is very bad. Granted, part of this is due to AI not wanting to quit and not being nearly as strong as its score suggests, and the AI improvements earlier mentioned will improve both sides of this equation (takes longer to effectively win, and less time to clean up).
Ideally I'd love to see some sort of mechanic cause the game to be over by around 4 hours, with 0 hours of cleanup.